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Monday, September 16, 2013

Aircraft Recognition: Would You Be Able to Identify World War II Planes?

As the narrative continues we cannot forget about the various aircraft used during World War II. I have posted samples of some airplanes. In a earlier post I discussed the "Mitsubishi Zero" and how it created many Japanese victories during the early part of the war. WWII planes were responsible for some of the most cataclysmic aerial battles in history. But a question arises. Would you be able to identify World War II planes? I have known pilots that can look up into the sky and easily identify airplanes. It is one thing to recognize aircraft on a peaceful, sunny day. Try identifying them in a middle of a war-torn country.

World War II was often a battle of technological advances. Throughout the war, the Allied and Axis Forces constantly worked to improve the abilities and features of their equipment. No type of technology showcased this battle for supremacy better than the fighter planes. Every few months saw the introduction of a new or improved fighter plane to combat the latest version developed by the opposing side.
 There were over three hundred planes manufactured in WWII from dozens of countries. I could conceivably develop an entire blog on aviation of this era; fortunately, there are blogs, websites, and books already devoted to military planes. I am focusing on the major types of WWII planes, just as I did with ships.


Fighter: Air to Air combat with enemy planes as well as air to ground combat. Armed with cannons and machine guns.

Dive Bombers: As the name implies, during a plane's dive, a bomb was released over an intended target

High Level Bombers: These large planes dropped several bombs, which increased their chances of hitting the target.

Torpedo Bombers: Torpedo bombs were ejected into the ocean headed on a swift path to a submarine or ship.

Patrol Planes: Designed to travel long distances over the water, sought out submarines and enemy ships. Also, used for rescue.

 Both Army and Navy provided official Aircraft Recognition Manuals. There were even official playing cards that had the images printed on them. Soldiers during their recreational time would be able to practice learning the different diagrams. It was vital that the personnel could look at the wing, tails and body to determine if an approaching aircraft were "Friend or Foe". This certainly avoided cases of friendly fire, where a Soldier would mistakenly shoot down one of their own planes. Of course, reconnaissance missions and surprise attacks required the keen ability to identify aircraft within seconds. It was simply a matter of life or death. Aircraft Recognition in World War II then, was extremely important even among civilians.




 Civilians had to identify aircraft as well.

So, this was what my father was trained to do, over seventy years ago in the Marshall Islands. He had to understand Aircraft Recognition. Dad manned the 90mm Anti-Aircraft Artillery. Would you be able to identify WWII planes during the war?

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